An unstoppable force meets an immovable object. The aspirations of many African Americans, Latinos and other marginalized Americans will not be stopped by the election of Donald Trump. But to be sure, the millions of Caucasian Americans who voted for Trump remain unmoved by those aspirations because, they also aspire.
Caucasian Americans just said, “Hey, we are still here. We aren’t potted plants.”
Eight years of President Obama, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and a burgeoning African-American national self-confidence had to be put in check by those who fear the loss of influence and power. Check mate.
We saw this black and white movie before shortly after the great Civil War ended when the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution fed the ambitions of freed slaves and led to a collision with the southern Caucasian power structure. The power structure fought back, won and introduced the Jim Crow era and the affirmation of just who controls the power levers in America.
In his own way, President Obama represented the same threat to Caucasian dominance of modern politics as those amendments threatened the defeated southerners’ ways of life. Those amendments mainly represented African-American but Obama also represented women constituents, Latinos, immigrants, gays and lesbians.
But what America should realize by now is that African-Americans are an unstoppable force, which may be slowed but will never be stopped. Neither will women, Latinos and the gay community give up their movements. And Trump’s election proved that millions of Caucasian Americans are just as determined to remain unmoved. For them power is a zero sum game. You either win or lose, there is no common or middle ground.
What we need to recognize is that the unstoppable force and the immovable object actually are combined as one entity – now called America. We can’t fight each other because we are each other. Conflict is futile.
What we will experience are these cyclical historical pushes and pulls like the Jim Crow era and the Obama era, but never will one side ultimately prevail. Plus, the conflicts are now much wider than a black and white contest because Latinos, women and other groups are now either immovable or unstoppable forces in their own rights.
The dirty little secret about American democracy is that we have to manage to get along with each other in order to survive. We can’t assume that compromise is a bad thing when actually we as a nation already are compromised and composed as one group, even though we refused to recognize that fact. So, we keep pushing and pulling as if we are different entities.
We are stuck with each other. Give me a little Civil Rights Movement here and bit of Barry Goldwater there. Take a touch of anti-immigrant fever and mix it with a Dream Act. Permit same sex marriage, but close the bathrooms. Roe v. Wade is the law, but clinics for women will close.
You can’t call Trump’s victory a backlash of Caucasian Americans or a resurgence of a silent majority. They never went any place. They are not coming back from anything. They just ran out of patience and tolerance for people who refused to respect the traditional dominance of Caucasians in America.
You can’t say the forces of the Obama era are defeated because they also are not going anywhere. They also will reassert themselves and soon enough.
Obama won yesterday. Trump wins today. No group will have permanent control. But we will be permanently linked to each other.